Rescue of Trapped Chilean Miners Begins

By: The Associated Press
By: The Associated Press

Florencio Avalos, the first of 33 miners to be rescued, surfaced Tuesday night to cheers Tuesday night. He and 32 others had been trapped for 69 days.

Avalos stepped out of a rescue capsule amid sobs from his young son and received a bracing bear hug from Chilean President Sebastian Pinera.

Avalos smiled widely as he hugged rescuers, then Pinera, as his wife, two sons and father looked on.

His 7-year-old son Bairo sobbed, as did Chile's first lady, Cecilia Morel.

Then Avalos was escorted into a medical triage center for the first of a battery of tests.

Manuel Gonzalez, a rescue expert with the state copper company Codelco, was the first to descend into the mine.

Roberto Ros, a paramedic with the Chilean Navy's special forces, was the second rescuer sent down to tend to those who might be in need of medical attention. At least one miner has diabetes. Another has high blood pressure.

The second of the 33 men pulled to fresh air and freedom shortly after 11 p.m. was Mario Sepulveda Espina. He climbed out of the rescue capsule and jubilantly hugged his wife, the Chilean president and rescuers. Espina then handed them pieces of rock from his undergound home.

The plan is to continue transporting the miners through the night up through the vertical rescue tunnel.


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